No, this video does not show an explosion at UNRWA's Gaza headquarters

By: Siri Christiansen
February 16 2024

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No, this video does not show an explosion at UNRWA's Gaza headquarters

Social media post claiming to show an explosion at the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza. Source: TikTok/Screenshot (Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

An old video of the demolition of a school in Gaza has been reused to claim that UNRWA’s headquarters in Gaza has been destroyed by Israeli military.

Claim ID e7f9995a

The claim

A video of an exploding building is circulating online, shared with claims it shows the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East's (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza City being blown up by Israel.

The video gained traction on February 14 as several large social media accounts started sharing it, including the Arabic news agency Roya News, which claimed the incident happened on February 13 in a TikTok video that gained over 123,000 views within 15 hours. The claim has also appeared on X (archived here and here) and Facebook (archived here).

This comes days after the Israeli military announced it had discovered an extensive tunnel network, allegedly being used by Hamas, running partly underneath UNRWA's headquarters. Some of the social media posts claimed that the UNRWA headquarters had been destroyed in an attempt to blow up these tunnels.

Source: X/TikTok/Screenshots (Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the video shows the demolition of a U.N school in Juhor ad Dik and is at least three months old.

In fact

A reverse image search shows that the video dates back to at least November 2023, when it went viral for the first time. At that time, social media users claimed it showed the Palestinian or Hamas parliament in Gaza, a claim debunked by several news outlets and fact-checking organizations, including France24, AFP, and Full Fact.

Source: X/YouTube/Screenshots (Modified by Logically Facts)

While the Palestinian Legislative Council complex in Gaza City had been recently destroyed, its distinct architectural features and urban surrounding area could not be found in the viral video. Instead, the building in the video was geolocated to the village of Juhor ad-Dik in Gaza, which is located 1.5 kilometers away from the Israeli border.

Searching for the keywords "Juhor ad Dik," "explosion," and "building," Logically Facts found an article about Israel's controlled demolitions in Gaza, published by The New York Times on February 2, 2024. Among the cases is a screenshot from the viral video, which the New York Times has identified as a U.N. school in Juhor Ad-Dik. 

Source: New York Times/TikTok/Screenshots (Modified by Logically Facts)

The building in the video is, therefore, neither the Palestinian Legislative Council nor the UNRWA headquarters, which is located opposite the Islamic University on Al-Azhar Road in Gaza City, approximately 6 kilometers from the U.N. school in Juhor ad-Dik. Logically Facts contacted the UNRWA, which confirmed that the building in the video is not its headquarters.

The UNRWA states in its situation report from February 14 that Israeli Security Forces reportedly conducted military operations inside the Gaza headquarters, the Gaza training college, and the Gaza field office in Gaza City between February 7 and February 10, resulting in damage to the buildings. Footage from Forbes Breaking News from February 14 shows that the building is still standing and that the building and its surroundings do not match the explosive video circulating on social media. There have been no news reports about the IDF fully demolishing the UNRWA headquarters. UNRWA has not made any statement about such an event on its website or official X account.

The verdict

The viral video shows the demolition of a U.N. school in the village of Juhor ad-Dik in Gaza, not the UNRWA headquarters. While Israeli military operations have recently damaged the headquarters in Gaza City, there have been no news reports or official statements mentioning a severe explosion of the kind shown in the video. Therefore, we have rated this claim as false.

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